Game 542: No. 1 James Madison defense scores and shuts down Delaware, 20-10
Newark, DE – The No. 1 FCS James Madison University Dukes held host Delaware (2-2, 0-1) to 229 yards of total offense and scored a go-ahead TD in the second quarter to remain undefeated in a hard-fought 20-10 win in game 542 of our ongoing history. The Dukes outscored four previous opponents 189-48 before this one. UD HC Danny Rocco’s defense played solid throughout holding JMU to 347 yards and keeping the Dukes well below its 47.2 ppg scoring average.
For CFF.com, we enjoyed a fun tailgate at our game 542 with friends and family affiliated with the University of Delaware, and met several interesting fans in the Delaware Stadium Parking lot. After the game, we had the pleasure of hosting Delaware RB Thomas Jefferson (4 carries for 11 yards) who came to visit with several of his former teachers and acquaintances from his high school, Passaic Tech, who had joined us for today’s game. Thomas gave some sound advice to several young fans he met nearby on the way back to study at his dorm after the game.
Delaware intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble to stop the first two JMU drives of the game. The second resulted in three points for the Fighting Blue Hens as Frank Raggo (Randolph, NJ) booted a 55-yard FG with the wind to his back to take a 3-0 lead. He set the Delaware record for the longest FG in school history. On the ensuing Duke drive, Thai Sharp (36 carries, 195 yards, one TD) broke loose to the UD six on a 59-yard jaunt. He took in in from there to give James Madison the lead, 7-3.
Second period action…
In the second period, the Blue Hens started driving from their 44. QB Joe Walker delivered a scoring strike to Jamie Jarmon on the left side of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 10-7 lead. JMU’s Harry O’Kelly’s punted later in the period to put UD back on their two. The Hens drove out as far as to their 45, but an unsportsmanlike penalty set them back on their 30. The next play proved to be the turning point of the game. Walker threw a TD pass to the left flat which looked to be an incomplete pass, but JMU DE Andrew Ankrah smartly picked up the ball at the 23 and raced to the end zone for what turned out to be a touchdown on a fumbled lateral. The referees confirmed the play, and the Dukes now led, 14-10.
UD’s subsequent possession resulted in an interception by JMU S Raven Greene to turn the ball over to the offense starting from its six with 3:46 left in the half. QB Bryan Schor, last season’s FCS Offensive Player of the Year, guided his team down to the UD 23. With :01 left, PK Tyler Gray made good on a 45-yard FG to give James Madison a 17-10 lead at halftime of Game 542.
Neither team could score in the third on this windy day. UD’s first drive resulted in a lost fumble. JMU drove for 9:35 on one possession eating up most of the clock before Gray’s FG attempt from 28 yards went wide right. In the fourth, both teams punted twice. The defenses dominated.
Delaware HC Danny Rocco replaced Walker with J.P. Caruso to try to get a passing game going for the Blue Hens. With 2:50 left, Gray put James Madison on the board once again to extend their lead 20-10 with a 48-yard FG. Time would run out with UD at JMU’s 48. No. 1 remained undefeated and Delaware dropped to 2-2, 0-1 with some work to do on the offensive side of the football.
Delaware travels to Long Island to meet Stony Brook (4-1, 3-0) there for the first time in a Colonial Athletic Association contest. JMU hosts Villanova (3-2, 1-1) for a crucial CAA match-up for both. CFF.com head back to Annapolis for our final regular season game there as 4-0, 3-0 (AAC) Navy welcomes arch-rival Air Force (1-3, 01 MWC). Both teams will be well-prepared to defend against the triple option since that’s what both run. Watch for a big pass play or two to make a difference in this game. Looking forward to this annual rivalry once again.
Points After Tailgating
Like many other college football venues, Delaware Stadium now serves beer. We ambled down at halftime of Game 542 to the Beer Garden in the NW corner of the stadium for some Dogfish Punkin’ Ale. Pretty good!
Among our fellow tailgaters were Cousin Vickie Scarpa, history teacher at Passaic Tech, and along with fellow Tech teachers Jennifer and Maureen who know former Passaic Tech grad Thomas Jefferson from their teaching days. Jennifer, an academic mentor to Thomas, and her daughter, Jasmine, wore No. 28 Delaware jerseys. They come to UD for most of his games. Also, Jim, a friend of Vickie’s’, joined us. Like my quest to go to as many college games as possible, Jim’s goal is to visit as many micro-breweries as possible. He’s up to around 250. When I mentioned our upcoming trip in October to see Louisville at Wake Forest, he highly recommended Foothills Brewery about five miles from the school. We’ll have to check that out.
We also met JMU QB Bryan Schor’s high school football coach from Delaware Valley HS in Milford, PA and his wife. They don’t live too far from us as Milford is just across the Delaware River from Sussex County where we live. I had no idea last season’s FCS Player of the year lives not far from our area.
Despite the UD loss, we met with RB Thomas Jefferson and his mother and father outside the locker room after the game. Thomas was disappointed of course with the loss, but he’s optimistic about the rest of the season knowing it’s still going to take some hard word to get the team moving back to its winning ways. On the way back to our tailgate and to get a ride back to his dorm, he pulled out his thick “Neuro” book from his duffle bag to show us he had some studying to do for the rest of the weekend. He’s definitely a dedicated scholar athlete and seems to have his priorities straight.
When my niece Kassie heard some young boys wondering who the player was near our post-game tailgate, she told them, “It’s Thomas Jefferson.” The kids were astounded, “The running back!” They came over to meet him. Thomas shook their hands and gave them his words of wisdom which impressed us adults as well. Basically, it was that you don’t have to be a super-star. Be a teammate, but to be successful you have to work hard to be the best you can for your team. By trying to be better than your teammates ahead of you, you’re basically helping the team. And we got the feeling that this is his intention as he looks forward to the rest of the Blue Hen season.
We sent him away with a tray of sandwiches and other goodies from our tailgate. He looked forward to some good eats and thanked us. We enjoyed meeting him. Good luck to the Blue Hens for the rest of the season, and we will be back to see him play again next year. We’re certain he will work hard at making his team be the best that it can be. We look forward to seeing his hard work pay off for him and the team.